Google Trends Features ASCII Art Of 9/11

A reader tipped us off to how ASCII art of an airplane is showing up in the number two position at Google Trends. When we first looked ourselves, we thought the image was that of an airplane approaching a landing strip. But a reader suggests it represents a far more disturbing scene, that of an airplane crashing into New York’s former World Trade Center towers on 9/11.

The ASCII image is this ✈ ▌▌. Below, how it appeared on Google Trends:

Google Hot Trends with Airplane

The “Hotness” level is “Volcanic,” which is hottest level Google Hot Trends can see. The related searches include trends, google trends, bematech, frigorific, google analytic and the geographic source seems to be from Sacramento, CA – at least according to Google’s details. There is currently related no news, blogs or web results for this “search term,” if you will.

This is not the first time we have seen issues with disturbing ASCII art hitting Google Trends. We spotted a swastika in Google trends back in July of this year. Google quickly removed the result and sent us a statement that said it was purely algorithmic and a spike in searches based on it being posted in a forum, caused it to show up in Google Hot Trends.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Google: Trends | Search & Society: General | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • jordan8037310

    It looks more like a plane hitting the twin towers than it does a plane landing on a runway. I just wanted to point it out for the purposes of it seeming more like a violent prank like the Swastika was back in July.

  • Barry Schwartz

    Hmm, Jordan – you make a good point. Didn’t even think of it from that angle.

  • chiropractic

    My first instinct was that it was 2 towers as well. Saw some asci art in results recently but not so high up. The related searches Related “trends, google trends, 911″ may be a clue.

  • dmzachara

    I find it very interesting that “fbi jobs” shows up at #3, right below the ASCII image. I wonder if this is just a coincidence….?

  • adammm

    FBI will be hiring around 3,000 new employees, carried on most news sites last night/this morning. No coincidence. I originally thought it was searchers using the airline flight google search function.

  • Cohn

    I don’t know how the plane got in there but based on the related searches showing up further down the list I would guess their servers got hacked:

    anosmia Related searches:
    404, mus musculus, musculus, error 500, ferrari f 2009

  • loongtim

    I remember this hoax email going around after 9/11. It claimed that if you typed out the flight number of the plane that crashed into the towers (Q33 NY) with Webdings font, it would display this image.

    It will – except that the real flight # wasn’t Q33. Just a hoax. And this is just a violent prank as jordan8037310 already said above.

  • edbloom

    looks like it’s still there – can’t believe they haven’t removed it yet – looks like the hackers are having a very good week with the whole twitter thing and now this – unreal

  • Danny Sullivan

    Apparently this forum post might be the source of the queries:

  • Cohn

    Google Search:
    ✈ ▌▌
    to produce the image.
    Don’t know how you grabbed the page.

  • Cohn

    oops it converted it… delete space before ampersands
    ✈ ▌ ▌

  • Cohn

    ok last time and them I am giving up… delete space between all numbers and letters to produce image

    & # 9 9 9 2; & # 9 6 1 2; & # 9 6 1 2;

  • aloxe

    I am not sure we can call that ASCII art or even an ascii image.

  • aclark

    Looks like a prank gone “big time” to me but its hardly art is it.

  • dmacd

    Google Trends was spoofed again today with ASCII art that used a racially-charged epithet in to suggest that black people patronize a certain fried-chicken franchise.

    Screenshot at

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